The second public art festival held by Al Riwaq Art Space in Adliya Bahrain; will come to a close Next week, April 26, after five weeks of stimulating the local art scene and investing the city’s public spaces with artistic propositions.
The month long art festival Alwan 338; opened on March 26 under the theme “Common Ground,“ curated by Sandra Maunac and Monica Santos of Masasam Curatorial Projects. “It seemed very appropriate for a public art festival and also very rich in meanings and interpretations. At this historical moment where in the political arena the main intention is to divide and insist on the differences between cultures and societies, it seems indispensable that art should offer, as it very often has, a possibility of debate and questioning and perhaps as a result, of conciliation, “ explained the Masasam team.
The festival is a community-driven cultural and artistic collaboration encouraging pubic participation and engagement with public art projects, installations, collective artwork, educational workshops, open-air music concerts and film screenings.
AlRiwaq Director, Bayan Kanoo, spoke to Sketchbook about the intention behind Alwan 338. “We wanted to engage visitors with art in public spaces, to rediscover block 338 and interact with the area. Not only that, as part of Al Riwaq Art Space vision, we wanted to promote artistic collaborations between local and international artists,” said Mrs Kanoo.
“Alwan338 has an enormous potential as it is one of its kind in Bahrain. We plan to have Alwan338 as a connection point to other art events in the Gulf region, engaging interaction between visitors, businesses and locals. We work very hard to have an honest but strong festival,” she also went on to say.
The festival is spreads throughout Block 338 restaurant district; with AlRiwaq as the starting point where most exhibitions from various international artists and workshops took place. Visitors can branch out from AlRiwaq and see the strategically placed commissions that are found all over the roads leading to the second destination of Alwan 338, the aesthetically captivating, Park 338; designed by Spoon dESIGN Consultants.
Spoon co-founder, Conor Maguire participated in last year’s Alwan 338 with an installation on Tian restaurant entitled, shadows, a sculpture /installation that was based on geometric Islamic patterns using only coat hangers adapting to its surround environment he told Sketchbook. After seeing Mr Maguires work, Mrs Kanoo invited him and Sara Valente, Spoon’s other co-founder, to create a space for the public to experience art inside art.
“Spoon vision is to create memorable spaces that foster a sense of community. By helping others make their mark we, in turn, make our own,” added Mr Maguire.
And what a mark they have made as the once ordinary space in the heart of block 338 comes to life with their dynamic vertical fan installations, nighttime illuminations, raised platforms and vibrant rhythms.
“Spoon studios focal point for inspiration is in linking architecture, design and sculpture, emerging concepts and theories of the digital age with tactile fundamentals of design and construction, in order to create dynamic and exciting environments,” added Mr Maguire.
As visitors move through Park 338; they can watch the various musical performances by local Bahraini artists and film screenings upon the multi dimensioned stage designed by 1:1 Architecture founded by Bahraini Maysam Alnasser.
Inspired by Alwan 338’s concept, “Common Ground,” Ms Alnasser put together an interchangeable stage that is broken down into smaller boxes of the same color and texture yet varying dimensions she told sketchbook.
“They form together the complete entity that holds within itself the steps, the stage, the furniture, the background and the screen. Those boxes can be rearranged depending on each band’s requirements,” said Ms Alnasser.
“The design rebels on the traditional form for a stage, (the raised platform and the background), instead, tries to redefine the spaces/areas according to body movements, way of use, so the height difference between the boxes suitable for musicians to climb up (steps) and sit on them instead of chairs while retaining the connections between musicians (eye contact),” added Ms Alnasser.
The stage’s main function was to ne interactive so it can be rearranged to accommodate different sets depending on the genre of music, size of the band performing and the performance routines explained Ms Alnasser.
Finally, another crucial aspect of the entire Alwan 338 Art Festival is the documentary filmed by 18-year-old Bahraini filmmaker Muhammed Al Mubarak, a college freshman and a member of the Ulafaa initiative aimed to reconcile the public through art. The film, aptly named ‘The making of Alwan338,’ was geared at showing how each artist defines “Common Ground” in his or her own words. Mr Al Mubarak is a self-taught and known for his high-quality videos expressing scenes of daily lives from different perspectives.
Activities for Alwan 338 have come to an end until the final, April 26th, when a film projection on the Summery of Alwan 338; will be viewed by artists, curators, collaborators and guests.
WORDS: BADRIYA AL-MAHMEED
Images courtesy of AlRiwaq Art Space